Editorial: Vision, Volunteers & Money

HAVE YOU EVER heard anyone whine about a lack of recreation facilities? Like, hey man, there ought to be a dog park, skate park, playground, river access point, and/or mountain bike skills park on the vacant DOT land next to I-90, right here? I mean, man, if they can pay for a fire engine, library, new street, building, or jail why can’t they do that too? We pay taxes.

“They” of course is the government; city, county, or state. “We” is everyone who pays taxes and in my five years of doing Out There Monthly I have never noticed a lack of interest in creating new outdoor recreation facilities. People are rabid for new places to play.

But there are things governments should do and things they shouldn’t do. Leading the charge on new recreation facilities in down economy falls into the latter category. I think everyone at one time or another has gotten wistful about some amenity they wished existed. (In case you couldn’t tell the mountain bike skills park is my idea and one of my favorites to whine about.) Next time you hear somebody bemoan the lack of a facility ask them “What are you going to do about it?”

Just about every cool outdoor thing around has followed the same formula that all great projects in our community follow; concerned citizens combined with non-profits, private business, and local government. These are the four legs of the table that make great lasting projects in our community. Concerned citizens identify the need, then they work with or create a non-profit to organize, then they solicit support from business, and they coordinate with local government to create a new public amenity. If any one of these four legs is missing the project suffers. Or, more likely, never happens.

The best thing anyone looking to create a new dog park, skate park, playground, river access point, and/or mountain bike skills park can do is look at some of the great examples of recreation creation in our community; Fat Tire Trail Riders Club and Sekani/Beacon Hill mountain bike area; Dishman Hills Natural Area Association and Big Rock climbing area, The Spokane Disc Golfers and the High Bridge Park disc golf course, and Friends of the Falls and the eventual Spokane Whitewater Park. All these groups provided vision, volunteers and money and they all have done amazing work that the whole community benefits from.

So what’s your dream facility? Why not get working on it? I’ll guarantee you coverage in Out There Monthly.

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